Charlotte Dujardin (pictured top) is doing it. HRH The Princess Royal is doing it. And as Britain’s horse crisis continues to bite, thousands of others have opted to rehome a horse from a charity rather than buy or breed their own. This prompts two questions: 1. Why is rehoming on the rise? and 2. What are you waiting for?
The first answer is simple. From happy hackers to ride and drive, companions to competition horses or first ponies to youngsters, rehoming a horse is an immensely rewarding experience and brings guarantees that a private purchase rarely can.
World Horse Welfare Glenda Spooner Farm manager Claire Phillips explains the advantages of rehoming over buying:
“All of the horses come with health records, microchip and passport. They give a frank and fair assessment of the ability and temperament of the horse as well as any quirks so there are no surprises. You also have the opportunity to spend time with the horse before you decide whether he is right for you.
“The value of this honest appraisal has never been more important in this crowded market. And all of our horses also come with a lifetime of expert advice and support.
“Another advantage of rehoming is the safety net: if your circumstances change or your child outgrows him, you can return him to us and be assured of his future.”
Each year the charity rehomes around 230 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules — just like World Horse Welfare Melody (pictured below).
Melody was born at Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in April 2010 after her mother was brought in as part of a prosecution case. We received a call the month before from a concerned member of the public and when field officer Jacko Jackson visited the site he found a group of horses including a chestnut mare — Melody’s mother Maude — who was desperately underweight with no access to food. They removed Maude along with several other horses and within weeks she gave birth to Melody.
Melody was rehomed as a youngster to Kim Smith who has been delighted with her progress: “She is an absolute pleasure and I hope more people can be encouraged to rehome. Melody is a perfect example that you don’t need to spend a fortune buying an expensive horse for its ‘breeding’ — Melody’s trainer, who has lots of experience with horses worth thousands of pounds, says she will make a fantastic eventing horse in the future.”
The charity believes that every horse deserves a loving and secure home and sees rehoming as one of its fundamental roles.
Chief Executive Roly Owers explains how the increase in welfare cases is an alarming trend: “Last year we took in 76% more horses than in 2012 and we are seeing more large groups of horses where indiscriminate breeding contributes to the problem. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our rehoming scheme, and the recent pressure has led us to introduce a new category into our Rehoming scheme: Project Horse and Pony. These are horses requiring further education or rehabilitation who can be matched with an experienced rehomer freeing up space at our Rescue and Rehoming Centres for the most desperate cases.”
The charity’s Need to Breed? initiative encourages those considering putting their mare into foal to think about rehoming as a responsible alternative. With between 6,000 and 7,000 horses at risk of abandonment and neglect in Britain and sale prices at a low, a more certain bet might be to rehome a youngster (rescue centres are bursting with them) and enjoy the benefits of bringing them on instead of bringing yet another foal into the world.
Only you know the answer to question number 2. But if you can offer a horse or pony a good home, why not?